I Need Help

Cidu Bill on Sep 4th 2017

i-need-help.JPG

This seems like the opposite of the Retail staple of the customer getting upset because clerks are asking him “May I help you?”, but at least those I understand what’s going on.

Filed in Bill Bickl, CIDU, Retail, comic strips, comics, humor | 29 responses so far

29 Responses to “I Need Help”

  1. Joseph K. Sep 4th 2017 at 10:05 am 1

    He needs to be at a counter of some recognizably retail establishment; but even so it’s not funny, just a complaint.

  2. Olivier Sep 4th 2017 at 10:19 am 2

    An observation, rather. Telepathy does not work and the customer is too shy to ask out loud for help. Then he is upset because the clerks are so engrossed in their work that they don’t notice him.

  3. larK Sep 4th 2017 at 10:25 am 3

    Those unreasonable customers, they expect you to read their minds! And then get all unreasonable when you don’t! I mean, it’s their problem if they’re not assertive enough to interrupt the busy staff — don’t they know the customer is always right? And geez, it’s so unfair that our store goes out of business — it’s all the customers’ fault!

  4. Dave Van Domelen Sep 4th 2017 at 11:27 am 4

    It’s a perfectly reasonable cartoon. A lot of people will expect that if they just look like they need help, they will be noticed. They don’t go up to an employee or ring the bell for help, they just try to give off “I need help” waves.

  5. Winter Wallaby Sep 4th 2017 at 12:21 pm 5

    +1 to the assessment that the cartoon is perfectly reasonable. I don’t even understand how it’s possible to take the customer’s side on this one.

  6. Christine Sep 4th 2017 at 01:06 pm 6

    It works better when it’s done with the customer waving off the mandatory greetings that you get when you walk in the store and *then* getting upset that he’s not getting help.

  7. Mr. Grumpy Sep 4th 2017 at 01:34 pm 7

    Looks to me as though he’s in a shipping room at amazon and why he would expect any help is baffling.

  8. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 01:37 pm 8

    “+1 to the assessment that the cartoon is perfectly reasonable.”

    Yeah.

  9. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 01:44 pm 9

    “Those unreasonable customers, they expect you to read their minds!”

    Where do you shop, that it’s reasonable to expect the staff to know what you want, even though you won’t tell them?

    If you come in, and ask for help, and the staff isn’t willing or able to give it to you, you (probably) have a complaint.

    Try this:
    Would it be reasonable for me to complain, right here and now, that NOBODY has explained the cartoon on page 68 of the May, 1979 issue of the New Yorker? I mean, it’s had me baffled for years, and this is a place where people go to have comics explained, and I’ve been coming here for years, and yet NOBODY has ever even TRIED to explain that one! NOT ONE!

  10. larK Sep 4th 2017 at 02:00 pm 10

    See, here’s the thing: reasonableness has nothing to do with it — it’s pure darwinian survival of the fittest in retail. It’s not fair. The customers ARE unreasonable — but if you don’t cater to their whims as successfully as the store down the block, guess what? You go out of business. So cry me a river, but that’s the nature of the game.

    I’m going to start a strip about old, young, and lame zebras. It’s going to show how that poor young gimpy zebra was just minding his own business, joyfully eating grass, being perfectly reasonable, when that lion came out of nowhere, and specifically targeted him and ate him! Maybe if lions read my strip they’d see it from the zebra’s point of view and boy will they be chagrinned!

  11. Winter Wallaby Sep 4th 2017 at 04:57 pm 11

    larK: Yes, to the extent that it’s possible for businesses to hire psychic employees who can magically tell which silent customers want help, and which one’s don’t, businesses that hire these psychic employees will be more profitable. Where this falls down is that such psychic employees are very expensive, as most of them are already working for the CIA.

    It’s sometimes possible and profitable to cater to unreasonable whims of customers. However, it’s not always possible or profitable.

  12. Joseph K. Sep 4th 2017 at 05:33 pm 12

    Pollock, post your cartoon and it will be explained.

  13. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 05:41 pm 13

    “it’s pure darwinian survival of the fittest in retail. It’s not fair. The customers ARE unreasonable — but if you don’t cater to their whims as successfully as the store down the block, guess what? You go out of business.”

    And therefore making jokes about how unreasonable the conditions of retails are, are somehow off-limits?

    Guess what… large bureaucratic organizations are large and bureaucratic. Scott Adams has made a fairly significant amount of money off this fact. The military is a giant wad of FUBAR… Bill Mauldin noted that fact at a time when they were doing something fairly important. Doctors and nurses who work in hospitals make jokes, too, and their job is plenty serious.

    When people call tech support, it’s usually because they have a real problem that is causing them real stress, and they desperately need help. If you think there are no jokes about tech support calls, you are unfamiliar with the Internet.

    Here’s a tip: Humor comes from the difference between what is expected, and what is actual. There isn’t really a talking horse who walked into a bar with a minister, a priest, a rabbi, and Elvis. There’s just a bunch of people in various stages of intoxication. But that’s not FUNNY, because that’s what’s EXPECTED. And you won’t get very many more talking horses in this bar, either… not at these prices!

  14. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 06:02 pm 14

    “post your cartoon and it will be explained.”

    No, explain it, and then I’ll tell if I get it now. What happened to customer service these days?

  15. Big Chief Sep 4th 2017 at 06:58 pm 15

    One of the things I do is play guitar in a bar band. It has always been an irritant that customers request songs ON THEIR WAY OUT, i.e., ” Hey, you never played [ insert musical standard here ] ! “, even though we actively, I might even say incessantly, solicit requests all night long. I am now old, rich, and arrogant enough to come right back at them, saying, ” you know, an intelligent person gives us a request on the way IN, not on the way OUT.” Unless it’s Freebird, of course, which is obviously meant as an insult and which you haven’t a prayer of hearing us play even if you call three days in advance.

  16. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 07:48 pm 16

    ” Hey, you never played [ insert musical standard here ] ! “,

    Not that I do this, mind you, but if I ever were to do this, this wouldn’t represent a request, retroactive or otherwise. It would represent that there was a mismatch between the setlist as played, and the setlist I would have expected. I mean, if you play “Immigrant Song”, and “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Kashmir”, I’m expecting you to get to “Stairway” at some point in the evening. I’m not necessarily WANTING “Stairway”, but it’s reasonable to expect a setlist with three Zep songs on it already to have the most popular Zep song, too. If you don’t play it, I may verbally express my surprise that I didn’t guess your setlist accurately.

    Now, that’s just a really obvious connection. My brain may make “obvious” connections between songs in the setlist that aren’t obvious (or, technically, actually real) to other people.

  17. larK Sep 4th 2017 at 09:00 pm 17

    “It’s sometimes possible and profitable to cater to unreasonable whims of customers. However, it’s not always possible or profitable.”

    Yep. And retail is a race to the bottom — if I’m the owner of this store, I don’t want my employees refolding merchandise, I want them attending the customer, no matter how unreasonable said customer is. (Never mind that the customer, even if well attended beyond the point of reason, will end up buying from Amazon…) And if I’m slightly more compassionate to my employees, I’ll lose out to the retailer across the street who’s an even bigger bastard to his staff. It sucks to work retail. I get it. The tragedy of the commons sucks too. Doesn’t mean I want to read a comic from the grass’ point of view.

    As an aside, I find it fascinating how polarizing this comic is; I wonder if you could correlate it to other polarizing topics to use it to predict how people would react to a slew of topics based on their reaction to this strip.

  18. Dave in Boston Sep 4th 2017 at 10:18 pm 18

    I dunno man, if they think you’re Lynyrd Skynyrd you’re doing a lot better than the average bar band… :-)

  19. Cidu Bill Sep 4th 2017 at 10:19 pm 19

    “Reasonable” doesn’t explain what the joke’s supposed to be.

  20. larK Sep 4th 2017 at 10:54 pm 20

    But “unreasonable” does, as in, the customer is being totally unreasonable, expecting the staff to read his mind that he needs help, while they are all just — if you’ll excuse the expression — minding their own business. When they don’t read his mind, he leaves in a huff, and that unreasonableness is funny ’cause it’s true, man.

  21. James Pollock Sep 4th 2017 at 10:56 pm 21

    ““Reasonable” doesn’t explain what the joke’s supposed to be.”

    The joke is:
    Why are customers so crazy? Are they not familiar with the way human beings work, specifically in this case, with the fact that human beings are not psychic?

    To which people who are familiar with retail operations will associate their own experiences with crazy people who think they are being completely reasonable when they demand (whatever unreasonable thing this particular individual customer wants).

    The customer thinks “the employees of this store should somehow magically know that I want to be left alone to shop, even though I won’t tell them this.” and then gets upset when an employee actually (gasp) offers to assist them. Or the customer thinks “Just by radiating helplessness, the employees will recognize that I need immediate assistance and rush to assist me”, and then gets upset when employees, busy with other tasks, continue to work on their other tasks instead of responding to the telepathic summons.

    Or when they want the employee to “check in the back” to see if the sold out item has secretly or magically come back into stock in the last hour or so. Yes, I understand you want a new mini-SNES unit. EVERYBODY wants a new mini-SNES unit, and the ones we were able to get were all pre-ordered by May. No, there aren’t any “in the back”, and no, the employee is not disrespecting you in telling you that there aren’t any mini-SNES units in stock, without going into “the back” which is not where they store products, anyway.

    My retail-management career lasted just under 3 weeks. The store manager (correctly) determined that I should never have been hired and let me go, and that was 30 years ago. I have a MUCH better understanding of how things work, now, having spent most of the intervening years studying and implementing systems.

  22. Meryl A Sep 5th 2017 at 02:12 am 22

    James Pollack - Husband worked in the basement shoe department (cheap as opposed to the regular shoe department upstairs) of a department store in the early 1970s. Being fairly intelligent he had a good idea of the stock they had on the more popular shoes as he would be going through them several times a day to get a pair for various customers. (Sample pair out, stock in back type of department.)

    Customer would ask for shoes that he knew they did not have and tell them. Customer would not believe him and insist he go to check. So he would go in the back and stand around there for awhile, and then come back and again say that they were out of the shoes and the customer would leave. If they complained to his manager it didn’t matter as he knew they were out of the shoe also - and did not particularly care.

  23. John Small Berries Sep 5th 2017 at 01:09 pm 23

    The joke, as others have mentioned, is that the guy doesn’t actually express his desire for help anywhere except in the privacy of his own mind, then gets upset when people didn’t psychically detect his need.

    The sad truth behind the joke is, retail workers can’t win, because customers can and do get upset at them for being “too pushy” if they try to be attentive to the customers’ needs, or for “ignoring them” if they try to let the customers browse on their own. (Not usually the SAME customers, of course… unless they’re the kind who treat shopping as an opportunity to make “the help” miserable no matter what they do.)

  24. guero Sep 5th 2017 at 06:57 pm 24

    It fascinates me how much commentary the Retail comic strip always generates in CIDU. I sometimes think it could be used by psychologists as a kind of personality test. At the very least, you can use it to identify those who have worked in retail, and those who have not.

    Anyway, I usually side with the sales staff in the strip, but not this time. Yeah, they have others duties, but the primary purpose is ensuring the customer is served. They may not be able to read minds, but if the guy is just standing there looking around, that is their cue to step in. Folding shirts can wait, and part of their responsibilities is to be aware of customers in the store, for other reasons besides sales.

    And after rereading my last paragraph, it comes across as a lot harsher than my actual feelings, which are more along the lines of eh, it’s a comic strip. In the immortal words of “Nuke” LaLoosh: “Sometimes you win. sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.”

  25. larK Sep 5th 2017 at 09:09 pm 25

    Wow, guero, you echo almost exactly the sentiments I had in a comment that is awaiting moderation! To quote myself (since I think maybe the comment has been eaten by Wordpress), I wrote: “As an aside, I find it fascinating how polarizing this comic is; I wonder if you could correlate it to other polarizing topics to use it to predict how people would react to a slew of topics based on their reaction to this strip.” I also touched on how I’d want my employees tending the customer, not refolding clothes, no mater how unreasonable he might seem. Wow!

  26. James Pollock Sep 5th 2017 at 11:38 pm 26

    There’s almost no indication of how much time passes, either, so you also might have a shade of “I want what I want right now!” on top of “I want what I want, even if I won’t tell you what it is”.

  27. PeterW Sep 7th 2017 at 04:58 pm 27

    People who don’t want to be offered help can’t escape helpful clerks, people who want to be offered help (but won’t go ask for it) feel abandoned. Either way, it’s all that rotten store’s fault.

  28. Kilby Sep 10th 2017 at 04:00 am 28

    @ guero (24) - “Sometimes you win. sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.”

    That reminds me of a line in a song by Joan Armatrading:
    Some days, the bear will eat you. Some days you eat the bear.

    P.S. Not that either (literal) outcome would be all that pleasant.

  29. B.A. Sep 10th 2017 at 01:50 pm 29

    Or Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

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